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Taking the Kids Weekly Column for planning a family vacation. Search tips for a family vacations and find family friendly vacation ideas.

To Sea World’s new Aquatica and other water parks this summer
Down Under Thunder attraction at Carowind's Boomerang Bay.

To Sea World’s new Aquatica and other water parks this summer

There are 36 water slides, six rivers and lagoons, white sandy beaches and two terrific kids' water play areas. Let's not forget the animals -- Commerson's Dolphins (take the "Dolphin Plunge" down 250 feet of clear tubes, through their habitat), Macaws, and colorful African Cichlids, which, for the uninitiated, are colorful fish found in freshwater lakes and rivers in Africa, Central and South America, among other far-flung places.)

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PACKING SMART FOR FLIGHTS THIS SUMMER

Starting June 15 - just when we're taking off on long-planned vacations -- American Airlines will charge us $15 each way for the first checked bag and $25 each way for the second checked bag on American Airlines, assuming you are flying domestically on a discounted ticket and are not a top-level frequent flier. (Southwest will still allow you to check two bags free.)

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RECESSION-PROOFING YOUR SUMMER VACATION
Keystone Resort offers a family adventure package that includes an Adventure Passport for activities that include a golf clinic, guided hikes, paddleboat rentals and more.

RECESSION-PROOFING YOUR SUMMER VACATION

Just as we're all planning summer getaways, gas prices go through the roof, the dollar is so weak against the British pound and the Euro that trips to Great Britain and Europe seem out of reach, and the pundits suggest the economy is going to get worse. And, as if to make us even more frustrated, this month airlines will begin charging you for checking a second bag.

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TO UNIVERSAL ORLANDO
The Simpson's Ride at Universal Studios Florida

TO UNIVERSAL ORLANDO

Welcome to Krustyland! Where we join the Simpsons -- yes those Springfield Simpsons of TV and movie fame -- in Krusty the Clown's crazy cartoon world, a theme park within a theme park. Talk about make-believe -- and incredible technology - as we're swept along, flying, bumping and crashing through the attractions, just opened at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando.

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On a (relatively) stress-free vacation aboard the Disney Wonder
Eileen and the Sitzmans and the Disney Wonder

On a (relatively) stress-free vacation aboard the Disney Wonder

It's well past the kids' bedtime, but no one is nagging the preschoolers and kindergartners to brush their teeth and go to sleep. Instead, they're dressed to the nines (the girls anyway in full princess regalia) before heading to a poolside pirate party

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BEYOND THE BEACH IN BELIZE
Cave tubing in Belize

BEYOND THE BEACH IN BELIZE

Mick Fleming arrived in dugout canoe; Lucy Fleming on horseback a day later. There were no roads to the overgrown farm in the Cayo district of Belize that the young couple hoped to run. Their land was a jungle - literally. "But there was something about the place," Fleming, who was raised in England, recalls more than 30 years later.

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TO SEATTLE
Seattle Aquarium

TO SEATTLE

So what if it rains a lot in Seattle. As long as you've got good rain gear, you won't care, especially when there's so much to do and see. Where else can you take the kids to see guys throwing raw fish, introduce them to ferries (yes, parents commute to work via ferry) take a turn on a sailboat, learn all about rock music, science fiction and the creatures who inhabit the sea in this part of the world.

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WHAT’S NEW AT THEME PARKS THIS SUMMER
Jungala_Tree Top Trails at Busch Gardens

WHAT’S NEW AT THEME PARKS THIS SUMMER

Whether your gang love coasters or hate them, love water slides or refuse to wait in line for them, (yes that was us skipping the famous water slides at the Atlantis in the Bahamas), you'll find plenty of new attractions to amuse everyone at this country's more than 400 theme parks (and scores more water parks) this spring and summer. Here's just a sampling of what's out there:

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TRADING HOUSES FOR YOUR NEXT VACATION
Home Exchange family

TRADING HOUSES FOR YOUR NEXT VACATION

A cottage in the English countryside or a flat in Paris, a deluxe Caribbean villa or a house with a pool in Orlando, San Diego, Canada, Colorado, New York City or San Francisco. Take your pick for summer vacation. Price is no concern. It won’t cost you a penny -- really. There’s just one tiny hitch

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